Cheaha State Park
19644 Hwy 281
Delta, Alabama

Where Alabama Touches the Sky

Cheaha State Park is a stunning outdoor destination located atop the tallest mountain in Alabama. Established by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) during the Great Depression, the park sits amidst the rugged and scenic terrain of the Talladega National Forest.

Cheaha Mountain, which rises to 2,407 feet above sea level, takes its name from the Muscogee (Creek) word "Chaha" or "high place." Local tradition also holds that Native Americans called the mountain "Sleeping Giant" because its profile takes the shape of a reclining man when seen from a distance.

The mountain has been occupied for thousands of years. Rock shelters near its base reveal archaeological evidence of early Native American hunting encampments and its sheer height above local terrain makes Cheaha a guide-point or landmark for hundreds of square miles.

Scholars believe that Spanish conquistador Hernando de Soto led his army through the neighboring valleys in 1540. The soldiers of Tristan de Luna y Arellano also likely saw the mountain 1559 while searching for the large Native American town of Coosa. Both expeditions are thought to have passed within sight of Cheaha Mountain.

The American Indians of the region formed a loose confederacy that grew into today's Muscogee (Creek) Nation by the time English explorers and traders penetrated the region in the late 1600s. The powerful alliance held back westward English expansion for more than one century while generally trying to maintain balanced relations with Great Britain, Spain, and France.
Bunker Tower stands atop Cheaha Mountain on the highest point in Alabama. A unique feature of Cheaha State Park, it was built by CCC workers during the Great Depression and offers remarkable views in all four directions.

The ultimate defeat of the Red Sticks at the Battle of Horseshoe Bend on March 27, 1814, paved the way for the final removal to what is now Oklahoma of thousands of Muscogee men, women, and children on the Trail of Tears two decades later.

Some white settlers built homes on the mountain, but its rocky and rugged terrain prevented any large settlements from growing there. Loggers cut old growth trees during the timber boom of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, but the timber companies pulled out after clearcutting ridges and valleys.

The Great Depression struck in 1929, causing untold human misery in rural regions like the hill country surrounding Cheaha Mountain. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt sought to relieve this suffering through the creation of a massive public works program. Cheaha and the Talladega Mountains became targets for improvement.

The land for Cheaha State Park was purchased by the State of Alabama in 1933, opening the way for a cooperative state and federal project to restore and enhance the mountain. Civilian Conservation Corps or CCC workers came to the mountain to plant trees, open trails, build picnic areas and campgrounds, and construct the beautiful stone cabins and lodge that still stand today. They also built Bunker Tower, which stands atop the highest point in Alabama.

President Roosevelt added to this effort with a proclamation that established the Talladega National Forest on July 17, 1936. CCC workers replanted the forests of the mountains and made other improvements, creating one of the most beautiful public outdoor destinations in America. The CCC Museum at the base of Bunker Tower explores the history of this era. 

Modernization has kept the park up to date through the years, while natural and historic features are preserved. It covers 2,799 acres with trails that range from extreme to the Doug Ghee Accessible Trail which provides access to Bald Rock for visitors of all abilities.
The Doug Ghee Accessible Trail allows visitors of all abilities to explore the forest and reach the Bald Rock Overlook to enjoy cool mountain breezes.

The Creeks never built towns atop the mountain but used it as a hunting ground. They also gathered nuts, roots, and other edible foods there, along with medicinal herbs and plants. The mountain ridges also became a place of refuge after the bloody Battle of Talladega during the Creek War of 1813-1814.

A civil war erupted among the Muscogee people in 1812 as the Red Stick faction led by the Prophet Josiah Francis, which favored a return to traditional ways, battled the Big Warrior or "white" faction, which wanted to adopt a culture more like that of the whites. The war spilled over to the whites when a militia force attacked a Red Stick supply party at Burnt Corn Creek on July 27, 1813. The Red Sticks retaliated by storming Fort Mims one month later in a battle that left more than 250 men, women, and children dead.

The fighting shifted to North Alabama as Maj. Gen. Andrew Jackson led an army from Tennessee into the Creek Nation. His soldiers attacked the town of Tallushatchee (near present-day Alexandria, Alabama) on November 3, 1813, killing some 200 Creek men, women, and children who may or may not have been Red Sticks.

Warriors from Hillabee and other towns responded by laying siege to a fort thrown up by the inhabitants of the white faction village of Talladega. A messenger slipped through the lines with a plea for help and Jackson put his army in motion from the Ten Islands of the Coosa River (near today's Ohatchee) where he was building Fort Strother.

The Tennesseans surrounded and defeated the Red Sticks at the Battle of Talladega on November 9, 1813. Three hundred warriors were killed and the survivors fled for the mountains that Jackson could see in the distance, one of which was Cheaha Mountain
Many waterfalls await exploration in the adjoining Talladega National Forest. Some, like Cheaha Falls seen here, flow into natural swimming holes.

Cheaha State Park is a popular destination for hiking, mountain biking, birding, camping, geocaching, and even rappelling and rock climbing. A small lake offers swimming, and a gem mine, dog park, and Native American relic museum add interest. The park also has a 30-room hotel, chalets, cabins, group lodge, pet-friendly facilities, mountain store, and the Vista Cliffside Restaurant.

The park is a good base for exploring the Chinnabee Silent Trail, Pinhoti Trail (which connects to the Appalachian Trail), and Odum Scout Trail. Off-road vehicle and all-terrain vehicle riders enjoy the nearby Kentuck ORV-ATV Trail. 
The adjoining Talladega National Forest is a great place to hike, bird, sightsee, and explore waterfalls. Cheaha Falls, High Falls, and Devil's Den Falls are within a short distance of the state park.

Cheaha State Park is at 19644 Hwy 281, Delta, Alabama. Hours are 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., seven days per week. The entry fees are $5 for ages 12 and older, $2 for seniors (62+) and kids 4-11. Kids under 4 are admitted free and active duty military and veterans enter free with their military ID.

Please click here to visit the official website for more information.
The rocky slopes of Cheaha Mountain and the other ridges of the Talladega Mountains offered shelter for fleeing Red Sticks following the Battle of Talladega during the Creek War of 1813-1814.

Learn more about Cheaha State Park in this quick video from Two Egg TV: